Just about a year ago, Saurav Ghosal was left distraught when he suffered a shock second-round defeat in the Commonwealth Games against Jamaica’s Christopher Binnie and needed to do something different to change things. He then decided to start working with David Palmer with a clear aim to achieve something he had not in his long career.
On April 1, the 32-year-old became the first Indian male squash player to break into the world top-10 in the PSA rankings thanks to quarterfinal appearances in the World Championship and the prestigious Grasshopper Cup in Zurich, Switzerland.
Ghosal started working with Palmer in June last year apart from training with his long-time coach Malcolm Willstrop and has seen his graph rise since then. The 12-time national champion, who broke into the world top-20 back in February 2013 and though he rarely slipped since then, moving into top-10 had been proving to be a difficult task for him.
But within months of starting his new coaching stint, Ghosal climbed to a career-high ranking of 11 in October 2018 and went on to win the Kolkata International in his home town a month later. He had to then withdraw from the second round encounter of the CCI international against Ramit Tandon due to a calf injury at the start of the year.
However, he came back stronger by reaching the world championship quarterfinals and then reached the last eight stage in Zurich where he stretched world number three Tarek Momen of Egypt.
Explaining the journey from the disappointing CWG campaign to the world top-10, Ghosal said he felt the need for a bigger push towards achieving something substantial in his career and decided to work with Palmer, himself a former world number one.
“I started working with Palmer last summer, adding to what I already have been working with Malcolm, and I feel my game has become more secure. Both of them are very experienced coaches and so we are a part of a team working towards well-defined goals,” Ghosal told Scroll.in from England where he is playing the Premier Squash League.
The 32-year-old pointed out that the primary aim was to go deeper in the draw in major international tournaments and focus on winning the big matches. “I am playing all the biggest events so winning them is not going to be the easiest task. But if you can start reaching the quarterfinals and the semifinals in these tournaments regularly and register some good wins then the ranking takes care of itself.
“Reaching the top-10 was one of the targets the team (which also includes trainer Damon Brown) had set. So yes, we have done that. But we are not done yet,” he said adding that the quarterfinal appearance in Chicago was one of the highlights of his year so far.
Though Ghosal isn’t willing to go in details about the goals he has set for the year ahead, the 32-year-old said his focus was to make a mark in the PSA Platinum events – El Gouna International in Egypt later this month and the British Open in May.
And despite pointing out how difficult winning a title in these major events was, the former u-19 British Open champion is hoping that one day he can scale that peak too.